Betty K Bynum grew up and attended college in the state of Virginia. She later moved to New York to pursue her dreams – fast forward to today Ms.Bynum is an author, screenwriter, and actress. I’m A Little Pretty Black Girl is one of the first books from her collection, her new book is entitled I’m a Brilliant Little Black Boy which she wrote together with her son, Joshua B. Drummond, featuring artwork by African-American illustrator Brian McGee (Disney, Cartoon Network, Hasbro, Mattel, Sony) who is currently the story board editor for the television series The Walking Dead.
The book is endorsed by Pauletta & Denzel Washington whose quote about the value of this story is featured in the beginning. It has also inspired other celebrities including Samuel Jackson, Vin Diesel, Omari Hardwick, Blair Underwood, Michael Ealy, Raphael Saadiq, Hill Harper, Drumma Boy, Malik Yusef, Henry Simmons and more to film selfie videos encouraging young black boys to “Be Brilliant” which are featured in the promo campaign video.
I’m a Brilliant Black Boy Promo Campaign Trailer:
Previously Betty K. Bynum released “I’m a Pretty Little Black Girl!” as part of her I Am book series. The NAACP nominated children’s book became the #1 top seller in Amazon’s African-American children’s books and was praised by Debbie Allen, Chris Rock, Hill Harper, Loretta Devine, Ruby Dee and Essence Magazine. In 2014 Betty released “I’m a Lovely Little Latina!” dedicated to girls of Latin American descent.
EGL: What were some obstacles you faced in the publishing industry?
Betty K Bynum: Being that this was my first book, I had no idea how things work. Although a lot of the major publishing companies showed interest in my book, they were more interested in changing the title and content to make it more universally appealing. At the very beginning I was somewhat ok with the idea of possibly changing the title but then I realized that I didn’t want that. This is how I started my own publishing company name Dreamtitle Publishing. I was watching Julianne Moore on the Today Show. She was promoting her children’s book, “Freckled-Face Strawberry.” She spoke about how being a red-head little girl with freckles wasn’t so popular back then and how it had made her feel like she didn’t belong. Even though I couldn’t relate to her experience per se, I dealt with similar things in my life and within 45 minutes that day I wrote my first book .
EGL: How do you manage your time successfully with a busy career?
BB: Time management is the biggest thing for me, in addition to time management courtesy and respect is paramount to everyone you deal with. Exercise and lots of rest are also important. Setting up a dedicated schedule of what the idea of my day will be like is important as well, that way I can dedicate time to a certain task.
EGL: How was it collaborating with doll maker Madame Alexander ?
BB: In 2010 I was introduced to Madame Alexander who is known for making dolls. Madame Alexander has made dolls for Gone With The Wind, Angelina Ballerina. To my surprise within the first 30 minutes of our meeting she said yes to making the doll for I’m A Pretty Little Black Girl. Gail Jarvis who was head of the company at the time was also beyond amazing to work with.
Lawrence Christmas who is a dear friend of mine said to me, “Betty, this never happens. No one gets a ‘yes’ after a 30 min meeting. It’s unheard of!” I’ve been very fortunate to have such a hand on experience with making my first doll.
The second book is relaunching over the holiday season.
EGL: Do you relate to the main character of your book in any way?
BB: Being the darkest of my family, I was picked on by my peers quite a bit. One day one of my father’s friend told me to go upstairs and look into the mirror and say I’m a pretty little black girl. As I was saying it, I was dancing and I was happy. From that day on I grew to love the person that I was even more.
EGL: How has the public received your message in your book?
BB: I’ve had many women come up to me thanking me for the book, whether or not it was a buy for someone they knew or for themselves. Old or young there is a void that needs to be filled for all girls and women of color. This book has helped many people to go back into their past and see what they were missing. It’s so important to me that the girls feel loved after they read my book. I want them to know that they look exactly the way they’re supposed to and they are fabulous!
EGL: What or who was your inspiration behind the making of this book I’m a Brilliant Little Black Boy?
BB: My son is the inspiration for this book. This book is also a response to I’m A Pretty Little Black Girl, people from social media were starting to ask when am I going to write for boys and so on. I didn’t know how exactly I was going to do this being that I can’t fully relate to being a boy and what they go through. So 3 years ago I went to my son Joshua and asked him for his input. The whole story line is pulled from his childhood. He was a tremendous help and really took it by the horn. He’s an amazing writer. This book is going to be truly unexpected, I have made sure that it’s done so beautifully from the finishing on the page to the designs. This book is my gift to our boys.
EGL: What would you like the readers to take away from I’m a Brilliant Little Black Boy?
BB: Best quote was said by Samuel Jackson, “stop shaming our boys, stop telling them they’re not smart, not brilliant and stop believing that they don’t want to learn.” Our young boys need to know that they are loved and that they can become anything and do anything the want to be. This book is a promise to encourage them and give them confidence. This is my gift to our boys, they need to be acknowledged just as much is our girls.
EGL: Your book has been received well by many celebrities. How has that changed your outlook on writing?
BB: It hasn’t changed my outlook on writing process, but what it has done is make me see what it takes to market a book. It’s always great to have great people support your work. Vin Diesel, Blair Underwood, Chris Rock, Samuel Jackson just to name a few are some of the well-known male actors that are all on board for I’m a Brilliant Little Black Boy. They are on board because of the message it’s set to send out to our boys and because there is nothing like it out there.
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Written by: Cynthia L, Staff Writer, Modern Domestic